The aim of this article is to match photos with some of the lures we’ve talked about recently in QFM, and also to include short instructions that will make it easier to select and use soft plastics to target Moreton Bay snapper.
By looking at the characteristics of commonly used lures you can give yourself a better chance of putting the right lure in the right place and catching a snapper. Fishing is often a percentage game. I’ve included photos of typical lure styles to ease any confusion; they are what I carry in my tacklebox for a day chasing squire on Moreton Bay, and in other areas, too.
This will be a two-part series, with part one looking at jighead-rigged lures for snapper and part two next month looking at the alternatives, including unweighted, Texas, Florida and brass ‘n’ glass rigging.
I’ve had a few ‘snapper on soft plastics’ articles published in QFM over the last three years. Just to recap, here are some of the main points I’ve covered previously:
• Casting ahead. Wherever possible I prefer to cast ahead of a drifting boat because there is less pressure on the line as you drift towards it. Thus the snapper can inhale the lure down for better hook-ups, and additionally you’ll hopefully be casting to fish that haven’t seen the boat yet and are less likely to be spooked.
• Gliding. Soft plastics that glide through the water and waft on the freefall are very attractive to mid-depth suspended snapper.
• Know when to fold ‘em. Long skinny plastics have the size to attract a hungry snapper plus they also fold over when the squire inhales them. The skinny lures fit neatly into the fish’s mouth. Skinny plastics can be great fish catchers and are extremely productive when mid-size fish are just bumping or nipping at the bigger fatter lures (such as shads).
On the left hand side, in vertical orientation are what we’d call ‘big lures’. From left to right they are: 7” Assassin straight tail shad, 5” Gambler (same as a Zoom Fluke) and a 5” Eel. You’ll note that sizes can vary a bit between one model of 5” lure and the next.
The top three of the middle row are the 4” lures: a 4” Slider Finesse worm, 4” Shad and 4” Split Tail.
The bottom three in the middle row are small lures: the 3” Split Tail (in this case the bulk of the 3” split tail is about half that of the 4” split tail above it), a Squidgy Flickbait of about the same size as the split tail, and a 3” Slider T-tail bass grub.
On the far right are a couple you may not have seen: above is the Gene Larew Hoo Daddy, and the lower lure is a craw.
There are two jigheads in the photo – the Squidgy Flickbait is rigged on a proprietary jighead and the other jighead, located between the 5” lures, is the short-shank 1/16oz jighead that we use with the 5” lures. Hungry snapper strike (inhale) at or around the head of the soft plastic so having a short-shank jighead is logical, and head-rigged lures also generate better action in the water.
One way to target snapper is to drag plastics on the bottom. Shorter lures, such as 3” paddle-tail grubs, are good for this. As the paddle-tail wiggles it seems to attract snapper nuzzling along the bottom.
To minimise the chances of getting snagged up, a good jighead choice is the Nitro jighead made by Matty Fraser (say, from 1/8 to 1/4oz). Matt’s Nitros have a triangular cross-section and they seem to snag up less.
In the photo the Nitro rigged soft plastic is on the left-hand side, and below it is a Nitro jighead.
On the right-hand side is a weedless jighead option with an example of the weedless jighead below – another good option if you want to minimise getting snagged up.
Finesse skinny plastic worms are magic for squire. The squire’s habit of sucking the lure in from the middle just back from the head means that skinny worms, which fold over easily, are perfect for finesse fishing for squire. Use either a darter head for action or a flat jighead as shown here for better gliding and freefall ‘dying’ baitfish imitation. This worm is a flat tailed 4” version.
Some lures can be rigged either on their side or in their normal fashion. This is particularly true of lures that are either oval in cross-section or flat sided, similar to the Squidgy Flickbait or Split Tail Assassins. Rigging on the side can increase the action and can increase the ‘glide ability’ of the lure.
The jigheads top and bottom show some of the options for flat-profiled jigheads that help the soft plastics to glide as well as incorporating tantalising actions on the freefall, which is when most snapper hits will come.
The 4” Split Tail at the top of the three is rigged straight up and down on a flat jighead, with the hook exposed. This is pretty much a standard presentation.
The 4” Split Tail in the middle is rigged on the side, also on a flat jighead. The hook exits the side of the flat body so the lure can glide on its side when it is jerked and paused through the water. It also wafts nicely too!
The lure on the bottom is rigged on a weedless glider head, examples of which are shown in the bottom of the photo.
The lure above is a 4” Split Tail for bigger ‘baking tray’ sized squire and rigged on a 1/4oz (7g) flat head jig.
In the middle are two 3” Split Tails which are for pan-sized squire and bream. One is rigged ‘standard’ with the hook exposed on a light flat head jig, and the lower of the two is rigged on the side for better gliding.
The lure second from the bottom is a Squidgy Flickbait rigged on a darter head. Darter heads are great medicine when the fish are grubbing around down on a sandy bottom.
The fifth lure at the bottom is the venerable Berkley Powerbait 3” Minnow for comparison; the difference in body depth between the same length 3” lures can easily be seen.
At the small end of the scale you have the Berkley Bass Minnow, Squidgy Flickbait and the Assassin 3” split-tail styles which are used primarily for bream and pan-sized squire. The small flickbait to a degree and definitely the Assassin split-tail can be ‘custom’ rigged for alternative action, because of their profile and body depth, by rigging them on their side. When rigged on the side, the Split Tail really becomes a fantastic gliding lure, and with the addition of a lightweight flat head it is an angler’s dream for targeting suspended fish, particularly suspended squire.
The lure at the top is very much the standard all-round lure type used in Moreton Bay for snapper, in this case a 5” Gambler on a 1/16oz corkscrew short shank Assassin jighead. This kind of set-up is ideal for midwater/suspended fish and also shallow water scenarios such as Mud Island.
The lure at the bottom is a 5” Eel rigged on its side. The lure is a lumo version, which comes in useful when rains and an outgoing tide generate cloudy water.
The lure at the top caught a 40lb mulloway on its last outing and the lure at the bottom caught a 15lb snapper on its last trip.
In between the lures are a variety of jigheads, with standard collars on the left and corkscrew collars on the right. Corkscrews are the most secure form of holding your plastic (short of super glue) and solid hooks are important for big fish. Most anglers carry a selection of jighead weights covering 1/16oz for shallow water suspended fish, down to 1/2oz jigheads for deeper reefs and locations such as the Harry Atkinson Artificial.
7) You never know what will jump on when you take the time to understand the plastics you’re using.Reads: 1550